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Community to Honor 150 People Who Died on the Job in 2015

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Media Advisory for April 28, 2017

Contact: Jeremy Sprinkle, NC State AFL-CIO, [email protected] // 336-255-2711

Community to Honor Those Who Died Working for a Better Life, April 28 at 10:15 AM in Raleigh

Deaths of 150 working people in 2015 evidence N.C. Department of Labor can do more to save lives

RALEIGH, N.C. – Local workers, labor and faith leaders, and surviving family members will gather Friday morning on the grounds of the Old State Capitol in Raleigh for a Workers’ Memorial Day service to honor 150 people known to have died while working for a better life in 2015 -- 13 more than died the year before -- and to call on NC Department of Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry to do more to prevent workplace injuries and fatalities. The interfaith memorial service will include ringing a bell 150 times, a special acoustic performance by Mary Johnson Rockers of the song Bread & Roses, and the hand-delivery of an invitation to Ms. Berry, who has declined to attend this year, to pay her respects to workplace fatality victims in 2018.

WHAT: Interfaith memorial service and press conference to commemorate Workers’ Memorial Day

WHEN: Friday, April 28, 2017, at 10:15 AM (start time)

WHERE: North Carolina State Capitol (south pad/Morgan St side), 1 E. Edenton Street, Raleigh, NC 27601

WHY: NCDOL Commissioner Cherie Berry has never attended an observance of Workers’ Memorial Day, an international day of remembrance for all those who have died while working for a better life. There were 150 such people in 2015 - up 13 from the year before and evidence Ms. Berry can and must DO MORE to protect the lives and health of working people on the job -- more employer education, more inspectors, steeper fines for repeat serious and willful violations, more advocacy by the commissioner for more resources and enforcement power to prevent workplace tragedies, and to show more respect to workplace fatality victims and their surviving loved ones.

WHO: Rev. Dr. Jennifer Copeland, NC Council of Churches; Dr. Farrukh Hakeem, Shaw University Mosque; Rabbi Eric Solomon, Beth Meyer Synagogue; Wendy’s worker Earl Bradley, Raise Up for $15; ironworker Caleb Sanderlin, JRRIC in Charlotte; Mary Johnson Rockers (performing), Farmworker Advocacy Network; surviving family members of workplace fatality victims; NC Justice Center, Student Action with Farmworkers, Action NC, NC Alliance for Retired Americans Education Fund, NC A. Philip Randolph Institute, Progress North Carolina, and others.

UNIQUE PHOTO / VIDEO: The sight and sound of the steady ringing of a memorial bell 150 times.  A few dozen or more community members, many dressed in black, some holding boards displaying the known names of the dead, while other hold photos of workplace fatality victims or posters. A memorial procession from the Capitol to the NC Department of Labor. The hand-delivery by an interfaith delegation of an invitation to Commissioner Cherie Berry to attend the community-organized Workers’ Memorial Day commemoration in 2018.


The NC State AFL-CIO is the largest association of local unions and union councils in North Carolina, representing a hundred and thirty thousand union members, fighting for good jobs, safe workplaces, workers’ rights, consumer protections, and quality public services on behalf of ALL working people.  PO Box 10805, Raleigh, NC 27605.